I’ve had this poem on my mind for a while. I took the title of my post from it. It’s called “No Time,” by my wise friend Johnna Ferguson:
for the sleeping and eating,
care of the young and
the sleeping and eating,
duties of shelter,
to keep it clean and warm
and lit and locked and live,
and all the wordless aspects
of errands and urgencies,
without details, lacking words,
and the sleeping and eating
Read the rest of it here (and really, do go and read it). I love this poem; my mind returns to it often, as I feel my children pulling time from my life, by the strand and by the handful.
It’s me right now, stealing time from other things I could/should/ought to be doing to write this. The weight of all my unfinished tasks feels oppressive, like I can never take time, or rather, like I somehow never deserve to take some of that time and give it to myself.
I took Shelah’s recommendation from last month and read This is How We Grow, by Christina Hibbert.I found her story of adopting her sister’s children compelling, but I appreciated her professional insights even more. She walked me through her process of getting through something really rough. I was struck by how often she forced herself, with her trained psychologist’s insight, to make space for exercise, for journaling, for time alone. And it helped heal her.
My takeaway from This is How We Grow: I really need to take better care of myself. To give myself more time. And even just writing that feels so narcissistic, like I’m bad for thinking that the solution to my woes and discouragement could be found by looking in instead of looking out. I’m trained to look out right now: to my husband, kids, visiting teachees, calling.
But a couple weeks ago I took a weekend and went to a hotel, all by myself (major applause and credit to my husband, who sees my need for time and insisted that I should go). It felt strange at first. The air conditioner in the room was loud, but that was the only sound. The entire room was clean, and I didn’t have to clean it. I could use the bathroom without emerging from it to see my children, all of them, gathered around the door, each wanting something from me.
I wrote and went to the temple and ate good food. I went shopping (Savers, baby!) and bought new clothes, including two almost-new pairs of black shoes that perfectly replaced my worn out ones. I felt more like a human being, like my own self, than I have in years. And, wouldn’t you know, when I came home I was a better mother.
I can’t take that kind of time very often. It’s a luxury, caviar and diamonds and $300 shoes instead of $8 ones. But I need to stop telling myself the lie that I don’t deserve it, or that my kids need me too much to take time away. My kids need the best kind of me, and I’m starting to see that when I don’t take time for myself, I am cheating all of us.
How do you beg, borrow, or steal time that restores you? What are your favorite restorative things to do? Is it as hard to give yourself permission to take time as it is for me?